Last year, Miss H asked if we could start a Language Arts program. She didn't know the term language arts, but she told me she wanted to know how to use "capitals and periods and stuff." She had realized that her peers knew these skills, but she didn't. I hadn't added this area in yet because we address it through copywork and phonics practice, even though it is slow-going. But knowing that she felt self-concious about her reading/writing/grammar abilities made me feel awful!
The Charlotte Mason approach doesn't require grammar, free writing, or general language arts instruction until students are in about fourth grade. I grew up loving these areas. I remember sitting at our old typewriter- yes, typewriter! for hours and writing stories as a seven- year-old. Now my own seven-year-old is showing the same interests, and fourth grade seems so far away to her!
I searched through several programs to find something literature-based and full of meaningful learning opportunities. No busy work, please! This year, we'll use Learning Language Arts Through Literature, (the yellow book). This literature-based program by Common Sense Press is perfect for our Charlotte Mason homeschool. H and I had the opportunity to try out this curriculum, and I've been compensated for this review. I was not required to write a positive review, and all ideas are my own.
Learning Language Arts Through Literature
Learning Language Arts Through Literature Yellow Book is a tried-and-true homeschool curriculum, currently in its third edition. Each week, there's a short portion of text from a book, poem, letter or dictionary entry. Throughout the week, activities center around the text. The activities are engaging and to the point. Each of the following areas are addressed in the yellow book in a variety of ways, making it feel less systematic than other curricula.
Spelling: There are five spelling words each week, and an optional bonus word. Students write out the spelling words, fill in sentence blanks, and do word scrambles. How wonderful that students aren't made to memorize 20 words a week!
Copywork: Each week's literature selection is used for copywork. There are typically three sentences in each week's copywork assignment. This is a just-right length for Miss H, who will officially start grade 3 language arts this winter.
Grammar: Grammar activities include editing sentences, writing contractions, and adding suffixes to words.
Phonics: The phonics patterns discussed don't necessarily appear in the spelling lists. Students identify the pattern in several words, and fill in the blank with a word that follows the pattern, among other activities.
Handwriting: In the yellow level, cursive handwriting is introduced, first having students write a couple of letters of cursive, and by the end of the book, having them write several words. A certain little girl is SO excited to learn cursive!
Writing: This curriculum offers many opportunities to write, even beyond copywork! Students can write sentences, lists, examples of literary concepts (like similes), and short paragraphs.
Literature connection: Some of the literature selections are from books that we're familiar with, like Benjamin Bunny and Alice in Wonderland. We also discovered authors that were new to us, like Patricia St. John. Even though each week only includes a snippet of text, you could easily find the full books and read them.
There are 12 levels of Learning Language Arts Through Literature. They all have colors associate with their levels, and the high school levels are all gold. We chose grade 3, the yellow level, because Miss H started a grade 2 language arts program towards the end of first grade. She'll officially start this curriculum during the second semester of this school year, but we've tried out a few lessons so far, and we're enjoying it!
Why We Like It
I knew that if we were going to slip in an extra subject to our homeschool, it needed to meld with what we were already doing. Teaching Language Arts Through Literature: Yellow Book definitely does! I like that it is Christian-based, but the message isn't forced onto every page and activity: it flows naturally.
We were already planning on reading Alice in Wonderland for our year 2, and I am so grateful that this curriculum features it too. The pieces fit together so well! Now I'll have copywork, phonics practice, and spelling practice all ready and waiting for this book. When we started Kindergarten two years ago, I was gung-ho about planning. Teachers love to plan! But now that our lessons are getting a little longer and our toddler boys are getting a little more restless, having something that is open and go is so very important to me.
This curriculum puts so many aspects of our day into one place. I don't have to buy a separate handwriting book, or spelling program, or even copywork notebook. I will always accept help when it comes to getting organized!
Using This Language Arts Curriculum
There are 36 weeks of lessons and five lessons each week. The teacher edition has a script, so you can teach the skills and get your child started on each activitity without any prep. Depending on your child and the amount of distractions you have, I think each lesson would take about 15-25 minutes. This seems like a complete time-saver to me, since there are so many subjects taught together!
There are 8 reviews and assessments included in this curriculum. These would be perfect for homeschool portfolios and evaluations. If you are able to sit with your child while they are working on the lessons, then you probably would not need to use them, as you would basically assess while your child worked.